Halifax, Nova Scotia, has a buzzing after-dark scene with great live music. Here’s our guide to the best nightlife in the Canadian city.
To tap into the best nightlife in Halifax, Nova Scotia, make a beeline for the streets that run parallel to the downtown waterfront area. The best venues are located on Hollis, Barrington, Grafton and Argyle. Curiously, some of the liveliest taverns and night-time haunts are between St Mary’s Basilica and St Paul’s Anglican Church. Music is part of every Maritimer’s DNA, so expect lots of live performances most nights.
There’s no cover charge at this authentic Irish bar, which was built in Ireland then disassembled and shipped to Halifax, where it was reconstructed. In addition to Irish brews (Kilkenny, Smithwick’s and, of course, Guinness), Durty Nelly’s pours about a dozen local ales, including the requisite Keith’s. Chef David Adjey creates gastro versions of traditional Irish pub grub, while affable manager Eugene McCabe brings the craic. There’s live music every night, but make sure to arrive early on Fridays and Saturdays.
Make this urban loft your last stop of the night, because you won’t want to leave. Start in the well-stocked cocktail lounge (perhaps for a Bullet Maple Fashion, made with bourbon, maple syrup and chocolate bitters), then head to the dance floor for live funk, soul or hip-hop. Alternatively, kick back and enjoy traditional R&B. Staff won’t kick you out until 3.30am.
If you’re intent on spending the night bumping and grinding on the dance floor, the Dome is one of the best venues in Halifax. Live music and visiting DJs energize club-goers with top 40 hits, hip-hop and electronica. The large club features multiple dance rooms, mezzanine lounges and a high-tech digital proscenium. Get the Fast Pass if you want to skip the weekend lines – it’s worth the few extra bucks.
Brother and sister Christian and Heather Rankin (no relation to the Rankin Family singers) got the inspiration to open Obladee while on a trip to Rome in 2008. They wanted a bar that catered to the late twentysomething and older crowd. So they opened a wine bar and added live entertainment – hence the popular Wednesday night jazz and Thursday night Celtic music programs. If a romantic outing is on your horizon, set your sights on Obladee.
What started in 1996 as one of the best LGBTQ-friendly clubs in Halifax has morphed into a no-labels space that’s popular with a diverse spectrum of partiers. That’s largely thanks to the friendly ambience nurtured by the management, and the venue’s reputation as a fantastic place to dance. Reflections hosts lots of drag shows, Halifax-based and international DJs and live music by local and visiting performers. The house motto is, “No labels, no rules. Everyone is welcome.”
Located in the Westin Nova Scotian hotel, Yuk Yuk’s Halifax Comedy Club is the prime venue in Halifax for stand-up. The 90-minute show, which can be enjoyed with or without dinner, makes for one hilarious evening. Yuk Yuk’s is a popular staple on the city’s nightlife scene, especially with visitors looking for Maritime humor at its best. Management are upfront about the content: “Our shows are not censored.” Admission is restricted to 19 years and older. Sorry, kids!
One of Halifax’s most popular craft brewers keeps its tap room open until midnight on Fridays and Saturdays, and 10pm the rest of the week. After enjoying, say, a flight of select Propeller brews, head downstairs to the Propeller Arcade, a funky basement crammed with pinball and arcade machines. Non-alcoholic drinks, including their all-natural sodas, are also available.
For really, really good cocktails, Lot Six on Argyle Street is among the best in Halifax. That’s largely thanks to bartender Cyle Crothers, who serves concoctions such as Hotel Rumble (Absolut Vodka, blueberry, lemon, orgeat, egg white, orange blossom water and raspberry liqueur) and Long Lost Friend (Woodford Reserve bourbon, Cynar, dry vermouth, lemon, Donn’s Mix, egg white and sage). The bar’s trendy spot in the Carleton Hotel makes his creations that little bit sweeter still.
In the shadow of historic Citadel Hill, the Halifax Alehouse welcomes beer aficionados to its century-old brick-fronted building. In its woodsy interior, beer kegs double as tables and staff wear traditional costumes from a bygone era. It’s touristy but still feels authentic. After chowing down on their sriracha maple chicken burger, enjoy some early evening pints before the live cover bands start at 9pm.
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